Most people think that estate plans are only needed for the elderly, but really, anyone 18 or older should have one. This is because, once you are no longer a child, your parents do not automatically have the power to do much of anything.
As such, if a college student passes away, the parents will have to probate for everything, including the child’s belongs, any bank accounts, cars, etc. However, once you have Dayton, Ohio, children, you have very different estate planning needs.
First, and foremost, the most important new consideration is a guardian. Should you and your spouse, the other parent, become incapacitated or die, the guardian will step in as the parent for your children. This means that the guardian will care for your child, including making life decisions (educational, health, etc.).
The guardian selection process
You can select an individual or couple to act as Ohio guardians, should the legal need arise. However, you should have a list of potential guardians ranked in order of succession, should one guardian elect not to take on the responsibility, or they lose their ability to take on the responsibility, like if they predecease you.
Think about how you want your child raised and how you raise them. The list of potential guardians should have the same style of parenting and belief systems. They should also know the children, and your children should know them as well.
Think about having to deal with the loss of their parents in the arms of a stranger. As such, depending on the situation, you may elect to have a guardian with different beliefs and parenting styles because you know there is already a loving relationship between your children and them.
Do not make these selections unilaterally
Guardianship designations should not be family secrets. Talk to your potential guardians and backup guardians. Make sure they are okay with being named as a potential guardian. Remember, they could change their mind, which is another reason why you need a slate of potential Ohio guardians.
Trusts and financial security
You and your spouse likely have Dayton, Ohio, life insurance, assets, various bank and brokerage accounts, etc. In a typical pre-children estate plan, those items will likely flow directly to your heirs. After you have children, you may have just changed the percentages that your heirs receive.
However, especially if you have young children, you need to plan for their financial security and make sure the guardian has the financial means to take on your children. This is where a trust can provide financial security without providing a windfall to the guardian. A trust can be administered by the guardian for the benefit of your children, or by a third party that can act as a third-party oversite on those funds. You are empowered to make the rules.